I’ve had it on my shelf for more than a year, but only cracked the spine on Neil Gaiman’s Newberry award-winning The Graveyard Book last night. In many ways it reminds me of more ‘classical’ children’s literature, the sort of books I was reading as a kid when I wasn’t reading The Baby-sitter’s Club. (I read a lot of the Baby-sitter’s Club. Too much, you might say.) The novel has a definite old-fashioned British sensibility, in addition to Gaiman’s unique style, and I was captivated by the familiarity of the storytelling. Not because it was a familiar tale (it’s about a living boy raised in a graveyard), but because it transports me to a different time. Despite being a modern book, I think this story could take place in any era.
There’s a lot of great YA out in the world now, some of which has gained world-wide attention, but starting The Graveyard Book has made me want to take a trip back to my childhood, and share some of the books that captured my imagination in the days before Harry Potter. Most of them have some element of fantasy, and several are historical fiction. (Shout out to my eighth grade English teacher Ms. Fisher who had us read fiction set in whatever ancient time period we were studying in history class.) I don’t think any of the books were contemporary, which never bothered me because they were timeless.
Or were they? Do they still hold up, existing in that ephemeral place with magic in place of technology?
Let’s find out. First up in the YA Rewind: The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More by Roald Dahl. Join me!